Defense contractors, researchers get a sense of what the military expects for the coming year at AMRDEC Futures Brief

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (WHNT) - A good crowd came to Redstone Arsenal Tuesday to hear what the Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) had to say to academic and commercial partners.

"It's about building partnerships and sustaining existing partnerships," says AMRDEC Director James Lackey.

The information they're giving out means a great deal to the partners carefully taking down the details.

After all, as Lackey explains, "From an economics perspective, we average about 2.5 to 2.6 billion dollars of budget activity for various customer resource sources to do this work. So we have a huge economic impact when you think about the local economy and what our role is here."

That's how they draw business leaders from all over the country. In the crowd, you'll find Albert Killen, a Senior VP from Intuitive Research, an aerospace engineering company.

The briefing given here helps them align their interests with the military's.

Killen says, "Hearing what their needs are what their challenges are, that better informs us as to both what skill sets they need, what products they need, what technologies, what insights."

Over a dozen academic partners and over 350 industry partners registered to learn what they could.

They come from 26 states to get direction in Huntsville.

If you want to focus in on a takeaway, Lackey offers a highlight, "3D printing is a key area for us to look at. It goes across the board, across the spectrum of what we're interested in and what we want to do."

Right outside the meeting hall, they have this display set up -- a three-dimensional landscape with tiny plastic buildings.

Each building was 3D printed for accuracy, ensuring for accurate planning in a possible combat scenario.

But they don't just want to manufacture the tiny weapons of war you find on the model. They want parts for the full size machines.

"That's one of those huge paradigm shifters of manufacturing technology," Lackey says, "Because that is the ability to create very complex parts."

At the meeting, they tell this to partners in industry and academia, giving them the heads up of what to work on.

Lackey elaborates, "For 3D printing, I look at them to help us supply us, what are the new technology machining ideas of the 3D machines themselves."

That puts everyone on the same page and the same playing field for next year.